Chicken Life Update

by Joan on December 23, 2011

This entry is part 7 of 18 in the series Chickens

Now that all the shopping’s done…..let’s talk chickens!

Here’s an update on how the ladies are doing….

First egg showed up right on schedule in mid-November, when the girls were about four months old.  Now, a month later, we’re getting at least five and up to nine eggs EVERY DAY.  For the dead middle of winter with snow on the ground that seems to be a very generous number.  We get white ones from little Scout; dark brown from  Thelma and Louise; light brown, small and very oblong from Maude; regular brown from Aretha Franklin, Hermione, Cindy Lou and Cleopatra; and the most amazing blue/green from surprise, surprise, Scarlett and Sarah. (We’re so happy Sarah didn’t turn out to be a rooster like we thought.)  That info is about 70% visual confirmation, 30% guess. I try and hang out in the coop to see what color egg is waiting for me when someone hops out of the nesting box, but there’s just so much time in the day to watch a chicken sitting around.

Egg number one!

They had to learn how to lay the eggs in the nesting boxes, which I hadn’t even gotten around to installing in the coop when the first egg came along.  That egg, plus the next four or five, were laid when the ladies were roosting, which meant they fell about six inches to the shelf below the roosts.  So the first few were cracked (but beautiful nonetheless.)

Nesting boxes were installed, golf balls placed in the nests to give the ladies a visual cue, and sure enough eggs started showing up nestled in the sand and straw.  I also found a nest next to the lawnmower behind the garage.  Once or twice a week I find an egg there, laid while everyone is out  free-ranging in the yard.  Excellent Daughter Libby and I found Louise sitting in that nest when we were trying to get the ladies in the coop for the night.  Louise wouldn’t move, so I gently picked her up and carried her to the run.  As I put her down a beautiful brown egg popped out.   (I apologized to her for the interruption.)

Laid in the nesting boxes - now that's better!

Rogue nest in the yard - pretty, but those eggs belong in the nesting boxes, ladies!

The eggs ARE beautiful, both outside and in, with the yolks being a gorgeous deep yellow almost orange color.  About once a week I find a HUGE brown egg – one with a bonus double yolk.  Our inner circle of friends has been getting pre-holiday gifts of eggs here and there – it’s amazing how a blue/green egg can make a person smile.

I love they way they're all different and not like grocery store eggs.

That's a double yolk-er, in contrast to an egg from the store. All the yolks are that gorgeous orange color.

Not all is love and joy in the coop, however.  Maude turned out to be one mean hen, plucking and eating feathers from the other girl’s butts.  (Gross, I know.) First round of an attempt to solve the problem was smearing a sticky, smelly substance on the offended rear ends, both to help heal and to make them unappealing to Maude.  Libby and got a great laugh – we must have looked utterly ridiculous running around the yard trying to corner the injured girls, and lord knows what I looked like rubbing the butt of a chicken.  However, it was an epic fail.  After the first application I came out one morning to find that the picking had actually gotten worse.  It was then that Maude was sent to solitary confinement in the dog crate until the next solution, a device called a “pinless peeper” came in the mail.  It came, we put it on Maude, and now she looks like this….

She looks embarrassed, and the other chickens laugh at her....

It’s supposed to keep her from seeing straight ahead, so she can’t see the ladies’ rear ends in front of her.  She can see to eat and drink and makes funny sidelong head movements to see where she’s going.  So far, so good but it’s only been a couple of days.  Time will tell, I guess.

The other big news is Keela, much to our surprise, has been out in the yard with the ladies (first time was a mistake on my part – I forgot to close the coop door) and seems completely unmoved by their presence.  She will lay in her bed and watch them wander around the yard.  She and Maude even shared a small breakfast of chicken feed one morning (again my mistake) when I let Maude out of solitary and forgot Keela was outside.  Will wonders ever cease?  I’m not stupid, and know that it would only take a startled chicken to awaken Keela’s inner prey drive.  But it is nice to see her in a more mellow frame of mind.

I think the biggest transformation since the chickens have arrived at Fairview Road has been ME.  As dorky as it sounds, I feel less stressed and happier.  Like REALLY happier.  Go figure.  Who knew chickens would be my own personal anti-anxiety solution?

Here’s some pics of the ladies…

Maude, in less embarrassing days.

Aretha Franklin

Cleopatra

Hermione

Beautiful Sarah

Last, but never least, sweet Scout with the floppy comb

So there you have it, an update on the ladies – fowl, canine and human.

Have a restful, joyful holiday!

 

 

 

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Mary@Fit and Fed July 26, 2012 at 8:16 pm

Fun! Love the chicken series. The multi-colored eggs look like just what I get from our egg lady– except that one on the left, that one really is exceptional (one of your double-yolkers I imagine). One of the drawbacks of living where I do is that the town doesn’t allow chickens unless you have considerable acreage, which we don’t. It’s too bad, because I’d love to have a few hens. Enjoy your chicken TV!
Mary@Fit and Fed´s last blog post ..Free-Range Chicken Flock: Humane Enough?

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